Sunday, July 17, 2011

Mount Marapi

Gunung Merapi or Marapi is located in Bukittinggi, Padang, Indonesia.  It's an active volcanic mountain and it normally takes about 6 hours to scale to the peak.  It's 2,891m above sea level, therefore the temperature at the peak can be chilly to most people.   It's advisable to wear three layer of clothes with thick windbreaker. 
There were seven of us, 4 guys and 3 ladies and I really looked forward to this trip as this is my first oversea hiking trip.  I have been to other parts of Indonesia but it was never for hiking.  We arrived at Minangkabau International Airport at about 8.30am after an hour flight.  Our tour agent was there waiting for us outside the arrival hall and after short pleasantries,we were taken in a van to Bukittinggi.  It's 4 hours drive from the airport.  Along the way, we stopped for for breakfast, lunch, sightseeing sthat included Rumah Gadang. 
We started hiking at about 11.20pm, local time (past midnight Malaysian time). I was really excited as it was also the first time that I hike at night.  I enjoyed it immensely.    I hiked at night before but it wasn't a complete hiking trip from the base to the peak in one day.  There was night hiking from Laban Rata to Low's Peak in Mount Kinabalu and there was also a trip in Nuang to go to campsite, Kem Lolo.  I find hiking at night as fun and very effective as we are not distracted by the surroundings and no stops for pictures.  After 5 hours of hiking, we reached the last checkpoint called Chadas and we stopped for coffee before continuing with the final push to the peak.  
We were told that it'd take another hour to reach the peak and it turned out it took more than that.  It took us one and a half hours instead.  When we reached the peak, there were already about 10 people there waiting for the sunrise.  It was an awesome feeling upon reaching the peak as the hiking wasn't easy.  The peak was covered with dried volcanic ashes and soil.  It was dusty too as the morning breeze at the peak was quite strong.  I was told there was crater at the other end of the peak but I didn't dare to go as the trail was very narrow and small. 

There were smokes coming out from the caldera.  
This is the mountain opposite of Mount Merapi and it's called Mount Singgalang.  It's not a volcanic mountain and we don't have the intention to come back for this mountain.  This mountain is very common in Malaysia. 
A close look at the caldera!
The trail from the last checkpoint to the peak was full of these volcanic stones and the surface can be very loose.  We were very careful and took it slow at the same time
More picture of the caldera.

On the way back, we saw the trail that we took to reach the peak clearly.  It could be dangerous if we were not careful and at some slopes, not only the surface was loose but also steep. It's really not for someone with aerophobia. 
I took the pictures below on the trip back from the peak when we were almost reaching the base.  When it comes to speed, the group was divided into three, the fastest ones completed the trip within 12 hours, followed by 13 hours by those with moderate speed and the slowest with the sweeper completed it within 14 hours.  A few of us swear that they'd never do any more hiking that takes more than 5 hours!
Bukittinggi is about 900 m above sea level.  It's not as cold as Cameron Highlands.  Avocado trees were very common and we saw a lot of them at their backyard.  It was also my favourite drink!  I had avocado juice at all meals except the last dinner. 
This picture was taken at the peak with Mount Singgalang at the background.  Will I come back to this mountain again?  Perhaps not.  There are so many other volcanic mountains in Indonesia and we were already talking about Rinjani, Agong, Batur and Bromo.  We'll decide by early next year!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Leaving for Bandar Udara Internasional Minangkabau

In less than 2 hours, I'll be leaving for LCCT, taking a flight to Padang, Indonesia.  I am excited as this is my first oversea hiking trip.  There are 7 of us, 5 from the same office and another 2 friends from outside.  Our group is made up of 4 Malays, 2 Chinese and 1 Indian.  It's really a muhibah trip.